PHOTO: Regis Korchinski-Paquet died at age 29 after police were called to her apartment in Toronto. (Newediuk Funeral Home)
Korchinski-Paquet died after falling from the balcony of her High Park apartment while Toronto police officers were in her home on May 27, 2020.
The statement of claim, filed on June 27, names the City of Toronto, five Toronto police officers who were at the scene that night, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), Ontario’s attorney general and Joseph Martino of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
The SIU cleared the police officers who were involved in the incident, saying while their efforts to de-escalate the situation were unsuccessful, none of them broke the law.
The civil suit claims, in part, that the officers deliberately misled the SIU investigation as well as the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), and also shared false information about Korchinski-Paquet following her death.
Jason Bogle, the lawyer representing the family, said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference that the facts officials have published about the case don’t align with what was captured on surveillance video.
The family’s OIPRD complaint said no one in the family saw any police officers act in a way that showed they were following de-escalation techniques, or acting on mental health training.
In particular, Bogle pointed to surveillance video that he says proves officers arrived at the scene with an offensive weapon and unholstered that weapon at a time when there were “more than enough officers” to address Korchinski-Paquet without it.
The presence of the weapon — combined with the number of officers present in the apartment and the failure to implement de-escalation tactics — contributed to Korchinski-Paquet’s death, her family said in the statement of claim.
Bogle said Martino is named in the lawsuit due to a news release he published that didn’t align with “physical evidence” secured by SIU investigators.
Furthermore, the family said in the lawsuit that it has suffered “severe emotional distress” because of what it calls the “intentional creation of the misleading, inaccurate facts.
TCHC, meanwhile, is named because it runs the building, 100 High Park Ave., where Korchinski-Paquet lived.
The lawsuit claims Korchinski-Paquet and her mother asked several times to put safety fencing on the balcony of their 24th floor apartment but those requests went ignored. This was not an isolated incident, the lawsuit alleges, but reflects the TCHC’s “history of failing to address its residence concerns and request within a timely manner.”
The lawsuit alleges the City of Toronto also be held responsible for failing to properly supervise the TCHC, which is city-owned.
Nobody named in the lawsuit has filed a statement of defence as of Wednesday afternoon. They have 20 days to file one after they’re served.
Meanwhile, Korchinski-Paquet’s family is also set to attend a judicial review in a federal court in October to assess the OIPRD’s decision not to charge any of the officers involved in the incident.